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Canon PowerShot G1 X Review


Review based on a production Canon PowerShot G1 X with firmware 1.0

Anyone watching the emergence of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras will have spent much of the last year patiently waiting for Canon and Nikon to show their hands. Nikon clearly decided such cameras didn't need large sensors, and it appears Canon has concluded they don't need interchangeable lenses. Both these moves make sense for companies wanting dedicated photographers to keep buying DSLRs, but Canon's approach is likely to be of more interest to those enthusiasts.

The Canon PowerShot G1 X may look like the company's existing G-series compacts, but is a very different prospect. It's a large sensor camera with a flexible 28-112mm-equivalent, 4x zoom lens and extensive manual controls. The company says it sees it as a camera for photographers who already have a high end DSLR such as a 5D Mark II/III or 7D, but at a price of $799, we think it'll appeal much more widely than that. After repeated waves of cameras aimed at point-and-shoot upgraders, it's heartening to see a camera really living up to the billing of a 'serious compact.'

The sensor in the G1 X is 18.7 x 14mm, which means it's 20% smaller than the sensors Canon uses in most of its DSLRs. However it's slightly larger than the Four Thirds size used by Olympus and Panasonic, and more than 4x the area of the Fujifilm X10's sensor. Noticeably, its pixel count is also around 20% lower than Canon's 18MP DSLR chip - supporting its assertion that its design is closely related, with the same underlying pixel design. This can only bode well, given the high quality results that cameras such as the EOS 7D can produce.

On top of this the G1 X offers almost all of the extensive external controls that appear on the G12 - a camera that is itself the product of many generations of evolution. The only reservation we have about the G12 is that there's an awful lot of camera for such a small sensor - so the combination of G-series build quality and ergonomics with a sensor to match that capability is extremely promising. The G1 X doesn't replace the G12, but instead supplements it in Canon's lineup, adding a new tier to the G series.

Using a built-in lens, rather than a lens mount, helps keep the size of the package down, and allows Canon to offer a really useful 28-112mm equivalent range. There may be mirrorless cameras that rival the G1 X for size (Panasonic's GX1 with power zoom lens, for example), but none can do so while offering such a flexible zoom range. And, although an aperture range of F2.8-5.8 isn't going to attract low-light enthusiasts, it will offer at least the control over depth-of-field that a DSLR kit lens will give.

Just for DSLR owners?

And that's enough to make us think Canon is being a little modest in suggesting that this is a camera for high-end DSLR owners. Given that few low-end DSLR users ever take the kit lens off their camera, then so long as they're not put off by its 'serious' looks, the G1 X could find a much bigger audience.

With its flip-out 920k dot (VGA) screen, metal construction, optical viewfinder, stabilized lens, twin control dials, customizable shortcut button and exposure compensation dial, it offers a lot to anyone who wants to get involved in the photographic process. Despite trying to create a camera that won't directly compete with its DSLRs, Canon may have inadvertently added to the list of cameras many would-be Rebel buyers will look at instead.

Canon G1 X specification highlights

  • 14MP 1.5" CMOS sensor (18.7 x 14mm)
  • 28-112mm F2.8-5.8 lens
  • Optical viewfinder
  • ISO 100-12,800
  • 3.0", 920,000 dot swivelling LCD
  • Extensive manual control
  • 14-bit Raw shooting
  • 4.5fps continuous shooting (up to 6 frames)
  • 6.8Wh NB-10L battery rated at 250 shots (CIPA standard)
The G1 X's sensor is 20% smaller than in most Canon DSLRs, but that still makes it 16% larger than Four Thirds, more than twice the size of the sensor in Nikon's 1 cameras and over six times the size of the sensors in previous Canon G-series compacts.


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

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DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2012 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

Total comments: 11
Sdaniella
By Sdaniella (2 months ago)

Canon:
G1X 15.1mm-60.4mm Zoom Lens
Max.Ap.Diam: 5.4mm (15.1/2.8) Wide
Max.Ap.Diam: 10.4mm (60.4/5.8) Tele
Horiz.AoV: 63.53° Wide
Horiz.AoV: 17.6° Tele

0 upvotes
biginabox
By biginabox (3 months ago)

Still the same flimsy, delicate lens and leaf design, I assume. No thanks.
After both a G10 and a G16 succumbed to 'shutter error' (the G16 within a week), it's manual transmission for me from now on. Something I make work by twisting with my fingers.
Come to think of it, I lose count of the number of my devices which have died simply because the 'automated' systems failed. VCR's, tape-decks, Minidisk players, and now cameras.

0 upvotes
rugosa
By rugosa (6 months ago)

I bought a G1X 2 weeks ago from a person that bought it for his wife for Christmas. She found it too much camera for her needs and so I bought it with about 10 shots total for $400. I usually shoot with a Nikon D300 and the Nikon higher priced lenses. For underwater and a light carry around I had a G10 for 5 years. After 2 weeks of shooting I must say that I'm amazed by the IQ of the photos this camera puts out. Low light shots up to ISO 1600 are allot better than my D300. It's not a perfect camera but then non of them are. Ordered a Canon 500D close up lens for it after seeing how well that worked on Marco Nero's photos with the G1X on www.pbase.com . This camera also shoots some very good underwater photos from examples I have seen on the internet so I picked up Canon's case on sale for my trips south. All told I think that although this camera is not for everyone most owners give it at least an 8/10. www.witnesstobeauty.com has another good review, great landscape photos

Comment edited 51 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Gunzorro
By Gunzorro (6 months ago)

I've been wanting this camera since it was announced. I'm primarily a DSLR shooter, and FF at that. I also have owned a G6 and currently G10 and S110. So, I'm pretty familiar with where this camera fits in and what a step it is for Canon to take.
I just bought a used version at a very nice price so will be trying it out in the near future.
I would have rated the camera a little higher, based on my past experience with Canon and reports I've read from reviews and owners. Particularly, Optics and Performance would have got a couple ticks up in my estimation. I think a 79 or 80 would have been appropriate -- being practically in a category of its own: attached zoom, large sensor, compact camera.
It won't be a camera for everyone, true. But if you want better IQ than P&S and use it as a second camera to your DSLR for quick grab shots and take-anywhere convenience, you should be well served! :)

0 upvotes
jan snks
By jan snks (9 months ago)

Image quality G1X, dpreview reports "excellent image quality across the ISO range without nasty surprises".
I would like to refer to the www.imaging-resourcing.com review of this camera. They reported a nasty Light Leakage phenomenon at higher ISO settings and short shutter times. This defect seems to be confirmed by Canon.
Would anybody comment on this ?

0 upvotes
millhoud
By millhoud (10 months ago)

I've noticed that the g1x took this studio shot at f7.1 , while other "enthusiast" compacts (g15 or p7700...) at f4.5. Could somebody explain me why's that? It would be nice to know the shutter speed too. Thanks

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (10 months ago)

It's to offer enough depth-of-field (it's a 3D target).

This has a sensor much bigger than the others, so needs to be stopped-down further in order to provide enough depth-of-field.

0 upvotes
millhoud
By millhoud (10 months ago)

Please sorry my ignorance, but to achieve this it has to use a slower shutter speed too or, thanks to the higher light-catching capabilities of the bigger sensor the g1x uses comparable shutter speeds as, say, the g15 or p7700 , with a smaller aperture?

0 upvotes
lem12
By lem12 (11 months ago)

If Canon increases DR able to at least match T2i and updates its Panorama mode (similar to the Sony's would be great), this would be true compact I'm looking for. I'll buy it no doubts!

0 upvotes
Wildbegonia
By Wildbegonia (11 months ago)

Almost but not there yet.

3 upvotes
Ponderer
By Ponderer (Aug 5, 2013)

G1x Cannons almost camera
Almost an APS-C sensor, Almost a good EVF, Almost enough lens magnification, Almost small enough. A good first try for a company that just started designing cameras.

9 upvotes
Total comments: 11